Friday, November 6, 2009
Love in Vain
Well, I promised to write some shorter posts, so here's one. This one isn't really about the play, although it is about romance of a sort. I think when one takes on a project like this--doing something crazy just for oneself, not for Worldly Recognition or tenure or even to impress anyone--there are probably going to be times when Doubt Sets In. So this is one of those times.
This week everyone in my house was sick, including my son, who couldn't go to school but was well enough to sit around all day feeling out of sorts and bored. My husband is ill, but has to go to work anyway, so he's cranky. I'm not ill--or not very--but the days are getting a lot shorter up here in the northlands, which is disconcerting because summer was like two weeks long. Or so it seems.
And so yesterday, writing about Mercutio and language, I'm thinking--why am I doing this? I mean, does anyone read Shakespeare anymore? Why not wait for the movie version? Isn't a blog just another "vain fantasy," "as thin of substance as the air," full of sound and fury and signifying nothing? I mean, it's not as if I'm writing about something important, like, I don't know...fashion. Or the Heathcare Debate. Or Celebrity Rehab Stories.
Uh, oh. Mercutio has obviously infected my mind with cynicism. Which, despite being an overeducated egghead type, I really do try to avoid.
So, in this post, I shall endeavor to talk myself back into the project. I should say that it's not easy writing something more personal--I'm half Italian, so kind of volatile, but half Scots-Presbyterian, so kind of repressed. In other words, schizo. Today, I'm going to be Italian and think through this out loud.
First, I'm going to remember why I started this. Love. I love reading and love Shakespeare. I had neglected him for awhile, and wanted to get back in touch. Now if you've ever done this--reconnected with an ex, like on Facebook, you know how disappointing it can be. But to be truly honest, I haven't been disappointed at all. It's been a rush all the way. Taming was fun, and Richard was...I don't know, important to me somehow, because I got back in touch with history as well as literature. R &J has been trickier. I do love the language--no doubt about that. But it's a story about youth, and it makes me feel old.
I've posted a picture of myself when I wasn't old--it's from college. I remember the incident really well. I was writing a final paper on something, working with notecards, and I just had a moment of absurd disconnection (and probably acute exhaustion), so I threw all the cards up in the air, like "the hell with this." You'll notice the ancient typewriter--I feel compelled to point out that it was an antique even then. I was poor and couldn't afford an IBM Selectric, which was the state of the art in those days. Anyway, I thought of that picture because it demonstrates both how much things change and how much they stay the same.
Here I am, throwing my notecards up in the air again.
The other problem I'm having with R & J is that it's so...earnest. I'm not sure I was ever that earnest. I've always been more a Mercutio type. Every time I've been guided wholly by emotions (and to be honest, there haven't been many of those times) it's ended in disaster. Just like the play, only without the poison and daggers. So it's hard to get my head around the sheer intensity of Romeo and Juliet's love thing. Not to mention the family vendetta--here, I'm going to be cryptic. Just let me say that in the Italian half of my family, that's not a fantasy. We believe in vendettas (it's an Italian word, after all), and they can last a lifetime.
So, combine that with the Emily Dickinson aspect of this--toiling in obscurity, writing mostly for oneself, but obviously without Emily's gifts--and sometimes it gets tricky.
On the other hand, I've never ever given up on anything I believed in, and I still believe in this project. I've got that oldest child thing going--I'm pathologically responsible. The romance is still alive; I don't get to do this for a living anymore, but I can certainly do it for fun. The Internet's great that way.
So, I will finish this play at least, and then reassess.
I've decided--for no good reason--that whenever I write these shorter posts, I'm going to use song titles. If you're old enough to recognize this one, then I'm sure you know what I mean about youth and age.
Anyway, thanks for reading.